That Labour’s Deputy Leader Angela Rayner denies the very possibility of social mobility is par for the course. As a raving socialist, she has to believe in an ossified class structure.
Anyone born working class remains working class for life – that’s an article of faith for her ilk. Never mind that we could all cite numerous examples of people moving up or down the social scale. When ideology barges in, reality flees.
What’s rather odd in a socialist fanatic is her utter contempt for comprehensive education, which is an icon for every left-thinking person. Comprehensive education, she believes, means comprehensive illiteracy. It don’t teach nothing to nobody.
To be fair to the self-described “fiery, ballsy, gobby Northern lass”, she didn’t express either belief in so many words. Both, however, can be inferred easily and ineluctably from what she did say.
Angie seems to regard illiteracy as a virtue, a badge of class honour. And she practises what she preaches.
The other day she launched another one of her vituperative (if not exactly unfounded) attacks on Boris Johnson. “Was you there or not at the party?”, she kept repeating. In fact, her insistence on that usage throughout shows that it wasn’t an unfortunate slip of the tongue. She really doesn’t have a clue about the conjugation of the verb ‘to be’.
Amazingly her consistent solecisms drew a lot of criticism. Since I can’t imagine any tweedy member of White’s watching Angie’s BBC interview, the Twitted criticism must have come from her natural constituency.
That in no way mitigated her indignant response in the same medium: “I wasn’t Eton-educated, but growing up in Stockport I was taught integrity, honesty and decency. Doesn’t mater [sic] how you say it. Boris Johnson is unfit to lead.”
Now, integrity, honesty and decency aren’t recognised academic subjects. English is, and logic used to be. So it does ‘mater’ how you say it and spell it. Angie’s response is an illiterate non sequitur, even though I may agree with her conclusion.
As a gesture of geographical loyalty, Angie established her credentials by becoming a grandmother still in her 30s. She could use that fact to ward off any accusation of ‘poshness’ if she spoke grammatically. There’s no need also to sound like a Dickensian urchin.
Going back to my original two inferences, they seem to be unassailable.
First, Angie clearly believes that “growing up in Stockport” (that is, being working class) precludes any possibility of future advancement, social, cultural or educational. Second, she is effectively saying that no school below the level of Eton, and certainly no comprehensive school, can teach its pupils to say ‘you were’, rather than ‘you was’.
Now, I despise the very idea of comprehensive schools hatched by Angie’s ideological brethren. Yet even I have never launched such a scathing attack on this egalitarian nonsense. It’s true that most youngsters thus educated emerge as functional illiterates. But that doesn’t mean such an outcome is predetermined, inevitable or universal.
In fact, I know several Northern lasses who speak with faultless grammar, if with a slight regional accent. In fact, the husband of one of such lasses comes from a similar background, which doesn’t prevent him from speaking and writing some of the best English in these Isles.
I myself went to a school where most boys carried knives or knuckledusters and hardly ever had a square meal that would be recognised as such even in Stockport. Yet I knew how ‘to be’ conjugated when I was about 10. And oh, did I forget to mention that my school was quite a bit north of Stockport, in Moscow, where English was taught as a second language?
Here’s a harrowing thought: if a general election were held today, and if the current Labour lead in the polls were reflected in the number of seats, Angie would have a senior ministerial post. This obscenely illiterate class warrior would be in a position to decide how a great nation is to be governed.
Call me a reactionary, but when my wife Penelope was a little girl someone like Angie wouldn’t even have got a secretarial job in the City. This makes me question my previous sentence.
Just how great is a nation where such a nincompoop, long on ideology, short on brains, is allowed to get anywhere near Westminster as anything other than a tourist? Or, to rephrase perhaps more accurately, how long will such a nation remain great even assuming it still is?
Please don’t answer that. I don’t want to get any more upset than I already am.